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Sunday, September 29, 2013

The perfect day

My perfect day is something like this:
Nothing scheduled.
Nothing due.
A dog, a pen, a book, a walk. Some people around -- being near but doing their own perfect thing. A nap.
That's it.

What's yours?

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Among friends

This weekend I was among other people -- many of them middle-aged women, but men as well -- who love children's books. It was the annual conference of the Northern Ohio Chapter of the Society of Children's Book Writer and Illustrators. I took a class with a picture-book writer who told of reading picture books aloud to her college-aged sons and their friends, and I thought, "Yes! These are my people." There were lengthy discussions about what makes good kid lit, and of course much of the the pointers are the same as would be given to anyone trying to write anything successfully, except perhaps lawyers and those writing artist statements for gallery walls. (Those are areas where obfuscation and murkiness seem to guide the aesthetic.)

Anyway, it was fun. And for you at home making lists of picture books, I give you Lisa Wheeler, who has written zillions of delightful titles and is a pretty good conference class leader, too.

By the way, I doodled my child and dog here in my note-taking notebook, then liked them enough to do them again in color in my watercolor book. I shouldn't have put the toe-licking action right there in the gutter of the sketchbook, but you get the idea.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Beautiful wordlessness

I love wordless stories.

Here's one I bought recently: Bluebird by artist Bob Staake. Take a look -- there's a short trailer posted on the site.

In Flotsam, David Wiesner conveys an eloquent tale about a magical camera found on the Jershey shore.

Though he's best known for comics like The Spirit, the late great Will Eisner was a master of wordless narrative. Here's one I go back to over and over, for all kinds of reasons. Some pages have dialogue, but many don't.

Finally, The Arrival by Shaun Tan tells a special and fantastical immigration story. The drawings are impeccable.

So I said "finally," but I meant only finally for today. There will be more ...

Monday, September 02, 2013

The Best Thing I Saw Yesterday

The best thing I saw yesterday was a hawk landing on a low roof of a neighbor's house. This is unusual, especially since hawks tend to prefer tree limbs or even power lines. He/she didn't stir when I got as close as possible to catch a glimpse, so I repaired to the sidewalk after a respectable time.

But off in the park later in the day, I caught a glimpse of a snake emerging from the murky lagoon; a turtle playing chicken with a duck on a limb sticking out of the water; a squirrel carrying something really really big in its mouth, scampering through the woods; and a duck taking a really long bath. Sweet autumn flowering things emitted clouds of fragrance, there and gone before I could identify the source. A heron, it turns out, can stand in one place for many minutes on end, but eventually it wants to check out another part of water, so it arises on pterodactyl wings, then lands thigh-deep near the rushes. And of course in the woods, one looks for interesting trees, and one need not look long. The one on the left of the page above, with its swirling grain, had more character than some people I know.

A funny thing I heard: small boy whining at his mother, "You always make me come out here and look at nature!"

That is all now. May your day be full of fresh air.